Sunday, January 2, 2011

Midway Blog

OK, I'm back on Midway. So if you want to see what I'm up to on Midway check out:

and if you want to see the latest things going on at Tern, check out Paula's blog at:

Thanks everyone for reading and being interested in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I had a great vacation and now it's back to work. However, I won't be going back to Tern Island. I officially got the job at Midway so I'll be going there on Thursday. I'll probably start up my old Midway blog- I'll see if I have enough storage space to keep it going. I'll be sorry to leave Tern, but I love Midway too, and the promotion isn't bad either. There was some news on the island. Ty got his flipper bit off by a large tiger shark while he was out snorkeling one day. He's fine and got back to shore without a scratch, but they are staying out of the water for now. Less than 2 weeks later, a person working at Palmyra (another atoll that USFWS manages along with the Nature Conservancy), got bit in the head by a 6 ft gray reef shark. He's a bit scratched up but is ok too. I still won't worry about going in the water, but I'll be paying attention. I'm posting a picture of Ty with his fins, but not anything else this time. I'll probably do one last wrap up post on this blog from Midway. If you are all hooked on the Tern Island happenings, Paula, who will be the new acting manager now that I'm gone, has started a new blog at She does a little more writing than I do, and I'll read it to see what's going on there. See you from Midway!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Last Day

Better late than never, right? I've been really busy getting ready to leave and going over a lot of details so Ty and Paula don't have to learn everything the hard way. At the moment, I'm scheduled to be on leave/at training/working in Honolulu until March. But things rarely work out according to plan around here, so I'm not quite sure what the schedule will be. I'll put some updates up when I figure things out. I really could just pretend I'm still on Tern and keep posting new pictures for the next 120 years (that's figuring with the over 60,000 pictures I've taken here and posting 9 or 10 pictures a week). Or maybe I'll just take my vacation.

My last week here was a lot like the others. Pulling weeds, counting birds, finding turtle hatchlings to save, snorkeling and picking up marine debris, fixing tractors, boats, and generators, and all that usual stuff. Maybe they'll let me pull weeds and fix something at my apartment complex in D.C.? And I'm sure there will be no shortage of marine debris on the Potomac, I'm also pretty sure that I won't have any snorkel pics to show you.
OK, see you soon!

I hope you aren't getting tired of pictures of yellow tangs in the coral.

Here's a Hawaiian green lionfish in the coral. I haven't seen any of these for 2 years, now I've seen 2 in the last 2 days.

A runway puddle at sunrise. I hope to not see this tomorrow. That would mean we take our brooms out to spread the water out so it dries before the plane gets here.

A couple of white terns appear to be pondering the mop??

I haven't shown you a red-footed booby on a bike for a long time. So here's another one.

We're banding Bulwer's petrels right now. This old chick has a good spot in the coral by the seawall. It should be leaving any day now.

I had my office in a computer room with no windows for almost 2 years. A few months ago, I decided to move my computer across the hall. Now I have a window with this view.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Good Week

It turns out we did get our Labor day off after all, oh and Happy Grandparents Day (9/12). The Hi'ialakai showed up a little too late to offload Monday afternoon, so we did it Tuesday morning. It was a pretty productive week with Ty and Paula both here to help. We fixed the safeboat, changed out our photovoltaic system batteries, rescued a lot of turtles, banded a lot of birds, replanted some native plants, and best of all, got a lot of paperwork done! Alright, that last one wasn't that fun, but it needs doing.

It's been raining a lot here at night lately. It's nice for our drinking water but it's also nice for the invasive plants. They are starting to sprout like weeds! I may even lift the shower and toilet flushing restrictions.

I'll post next Sunday, but then I'll be off for a while. I'll tell you what I know next week.

As far as a textbook fish picture goes, this one may leave something to be desired, but the colors on this Christmas wrasse were amazing.

Here's Paula getting ready with the lines for tying up to the Hi'ialakai.

Another lost turtle on the runway picture (and the first dark clouds in a while).

This fish is a rainbow runner (about 2 ft long). We don't see them around too often, but they are out near LaPerouse sometimes.

Here's a giant trevally checking me out.

Here it is again with a friend.

This Christmas shearwater chick was recently banded. It's just got a bit of down left on the back of its head and neck.

Many of our shorebirds are returning from their breeding grounds in Alaska and Canada. This is a wandering tattler over in the old Coast Guard dump area.

Another white tern picture to finish off the blog.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Happy Labor Day. I hope your weekend is as good as mine. Not that I did anything too special so far, but it's always a great weekend on Tern Island. We're expecting the NOAA ship Hi'ialakai to bring us some food and supplies tomorrow, so we won't get the holiday off, but it's worth it to get fresh food.

We said goodbye to Mark, Tiphanie, and Carlos this week, so now we'll have to check up on the seal pups ourselves. There are still a couple that are nursing, so they need some looking in on. Ty and Paula came in on the plane also. Ty will be filling in for me while I'm off island through Dec. I've still got a couple more blogs to go before I'm off though.

As I said, it's been the usual around here. Collecting turtle hatchlings, picking weeds, picking up nets and ropes that wash up, counting birds, and of course the most fun part, cleaning and maintenance.

Our boat was out of commission for a bit because the thermostat went bad. The parts came on the plane so I was able to get that going again. Just to make sure it's ready for unloading the ship tomorrow, we had to take it over to Serendipity today (see last weeks post if you don't know what that is). It seems like it will work tomorrow.

This weaned pup is having a tough weekend. At least his mother taught him some manners. He covers his mouth when he yawns.

I was grading the runway before the plane came in (dragging a big I-beam) and just felt like taking a snapshot.

Some of the nice coral at Serendipity.

These are oval butterflyfish. They are a bit small in this picture, but I didn't want to crop one out for a closer view.

This is a young teardrop butterflyfish. We don't see them too often, but they are around.

A spectacled parrotfish. These parrotfish start out as females when they are young and turn into males as they mature. This one looks like it's in the process of changing since it has the color patterns of both.

More yellow tangs and a few other fish.

This is one of the green sea turtle hatchlings I found last week while doing my entrapment walk around the island. It would have been roasted by the sun in a few more hours, so at least I gave it a chance by putting it in the water.

We don't like this bird around here. It is a cattle egret and it can be a predator of small chicks and eggs. We don't mind vagrant predators that get here on their own normally, but this is an introduced bird to Hawaii and would not be a vagrant here otherwise. One bird won't do too much damage, but we don't want two to show up and start breeding. This picture is out on the back deck near the clothesline in case you were wondering why it's so cluttered.

I'm wondering if this masked booby was singing the Rolling Stones to itself "I'm not waiting on a lady, I'm just waitin on a friend" (they normally hang out in groups on the runway). At least that's what popped into my head when I saw it.

I like this picture of a juvenile red-footed booby because each feather is really distinct. I didn't shrink this one as much as most of the others so you might be able to see that better if you double click on it.

This juvenile red-footed booby is flaring its tail for airbrakes so it can see what I'm up to.

A white tern caught a couple of fish, either to impress another adult or to feed its chick.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


This week was another usual week. We found a lot of little turtle hatchlings wandering around the island and had to release them on the beach. We checked and counted some eggs and chicks. We cleaned the barracks on Thursday, like every Thursday (not quite as fun as the other things). And we topped it off with a nice Sunday snorkel today. You get a really short narrative today, but a good number of pics.

6 turtle hatchlings are patiently waiting in the bucket for sunset so they can get on with their lives.
This was a nice turtle release party in the rain. We had somewhere around 45 of them to let go this time.

Here's a row of masked boobies on the log on East Island.

A turtle caused some problems with these Bulwer's petrel nest boxes. The turtle buried the entrances. These 3 chicks were still alive, so it couldn't have been too long. We uncovered the entrances and I hope the parents come back to check on them.

There used to be two sand islands right near here, Whale and Skate Islands, which merged into one big island called Whale-Skate Island and then it washed away, never to be seen again. This area is surrounded by shallow reef in every direction so it's almost always calm. We call this snorkeling spot Serendipity. Pretty nice, huh?

We still have to pick up trash there though. Here's Sarah pulling out a rope with buoys that was stuck on some coral.

All of these pictures were from there today. This monk seal was probably wondering what we were doing in its spot.

It swam around us for a couple of minutes before it decided to move on. The fish are called Nenue in Hawaiian (chubs).

The yellow tangs always add some nice color to the pictures.

The bluefin trevallies follow us around pretty much every time we go snorkeling anywhere. They are waiting to see if we're going to scare out some dinner for them.

Just another jack.

I've been having trouble getting a picture of a sailfin tang. This one isn't too bad (and of course the yellow tang for some more color).

This is a pretty representative shot of how the coral looks over there.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Turtles and Seals

It was a busy week with 2 NOAA ships here. The Oscar Elton Sette came to pick up Shawn and Darren since the seal monitoring season is pretty much done. Mark stayed back and will monitor them for a couple more weeks. The Hi'ialakai was also here doing some reef surveys and various underwater things. Pablo also hitched a ride with the Hi'ialakai so it's just Sarah, Phillip, and Keith for my volunteers now. Tiphanie and Carlos are still working with the sharks.

We've been doing the usual work around here- saving turtle hatchlings that don't crawl toward the water, pulling weeds, counting/banding birds, picking up marine debris, and that sort of thing.

I'm getting ready to take my vacation. Even though I enjoy it out here, after 10 months out here, it will be a nice break. I am really lucky for being able to live out here, but with living in my office and pretty much being able to only get 1000 yards away, I'd like to get back to the traffic, politics, high gas prices, the general rat race, etc. to recharge my batteries. I'm leaving in about a month and Ty will be out here for a while watching the place. I hope he doesn't get evacuated again. That was a bit of trouble, with the C-130 picking everyone up and him having to burn a couple of freezers full of rotten food and all.

I've got extra pictures this week, just because the newly weaned seal pups were playing on the beach right outside the barracks window. I couldn't decide which pics to use so I'm just putting up a bunch.

Pablo waving goodbye to Tern Island.

Keith, Phillip, and Sarah are digging up a turtle nest on East Island. We had to get a data logger (monitors nest conditions) that was put into the egg chamber when the turtle laid the eggs.

I found this turtle on the runway during my morning walk and set it on the beach. It was pretty lively and crawled right in.

This was the second turtle hatchling I found which was wandering in the weeds. It's amazing these tiny little twerps make it out there.

Here's a least tern that's visiting the island. There was another one, but it died over a week ago. We'll send it off for necropsy to find out what happened.
Here's the newly weaned pups by the barracks. They are only a couple months old. They don't play very long before they need a nap. I wish the sun was behind me for better lighting. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers.